Buddhist in Northern Afghanistan
Siddhartha Gautama was born in the 6th century in Northern India. Better known as “Buddha”, he was a great spiritual leader and ancient philosopher. Siddhartha Gautama is a man whom, “found the meaning of life” or a man whom, “Has achieved his goals (Cunningham, et al. Chapter 5, “Preview”).” In 1922 a German novelist, Hermann Hesse establish his story of Gautama, during the 5 century BCE during a time when his life overlapped this ear Cunningham, et al. Chapter 5, “Preview”). Siddhartha came from a very wealthy family and decided to leave his life of privilege to experience everything the world had to offer (Ibid).
After abandoning his very privileged life, he sought enlightenment through meditation (Cunningham, et al. Chapter 5, “Preview”). 49 of his days were spent under a fig tree and at the end of these days is when Gautama achieved enlightenment and obtained the name Buddha, meaning the awakened one (Ibid). During this time Gautama did not eat, sleep, or even use the restroom. This time was spent strictly meditating until the enlightenment would be reached. His followers at this time had witnessed this entire deal. Some question how his body would last this long without meeting basic human needs but while he was in meditation his energy consumption was very low. The only energy he needed was to breathe and keep blood pumping throughout his body. Buddhas story was passed around by word-to-mouth for four centuries and was put into writing around the same time Caesar was assassinated in Rome (Ibid). The religion and philosophy of Buddhism traveled eastward throughout South Asia, China and Japan (Cunningham et al. Chapter 5, “Early Civilization of south Asia”). Of all of the cultures around Buddhism became one of the most popular.
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The Buddha that followers had come to trust and aspire to be like had once faced dilemmas that not many people know about. He was once known as Prince Siddhartha and came from a very wealthy family. His family isolated him from the horrors of the outside world (Cunningham at el. Chapter 5, “Preview”). He left the palace wall one day to find only suffering and hurt. This made Prince Siddhartha makes some choices that many would not agree with. He left behind his wife and newborn son in a search of finding, “The meaning of life (Ibid).” Feeling as though he had been shut out from the world and was in a dilemma of not even knowing what was going on in his surroundings, he set out to find himself spiritually. That is when he spent his next 49 days finding enlightenment (Ibid).
When Siddhartha left his life of luxury, he was also deciding that he would not be there to raise his newborn son. Although he knew there were going to be consequences to his decision, he also knew what he was doing was the right thing. Living in such an isolated place for so long helped him release all of the negativity as he felt free while meditating (Cunningham et al. Chapter 5, South Asia). He had to realize that there was actual suffering going on in the world around him and gave people a way to follow him and become enlightened, as well. Buddhas son eventually became one of his most devoted followers after he got past the hatred he felt towards his father for leaving him.
Ashoka was sometimes called one of the greatest emperors of ancient India (Cunningham et al. Chapter 5, “Buddhism”). Ashoka became disgusted by the amount of sadness, suffering and death that he had caused his people (Ibid). While the empire had practiced Hinduism, he decided he would convert to Buddhism (Ibid). Following the teachings of Buddhism, he would now take a nonviolent approach. Although the empire was tolerant of all religions, Ashoka made Buddhism the religion of the state (Cunningham et al. Chapter 5, “Buddhism”). There was to no longer be any violence towards people or animals. He also established Buddhist monasteries, also called sanghas (Ibid).
One of Afghanistan’s most popular religions was Buddhism (Cunningham et al. Chapter 5, “Connections”). A connection was created called the Greco-Buddhism. It is a mix of Buddhism and Hellenistic Greek culture (Ibid). The art that came from this mix was made up of Buddhist subjects with characteristics from Greek statues (Ibid). During the pre-Islamic era Buddhism was widespread throughout the Hindu Kush mountains. There was a New Monastery that functioned as a learning center for Buddhist in Northern Afghanistan.